Going into Saturday’s football game, the story was whether the Central Michigan Chippewas or the Miami (OH) RedHawks would keep their bowl game hopes alive.
As it turns out, it was CMU that emerged with the 30-16 victory to improve its record to 5-6. The Chippewas can become bowl-eligible and reach the .500 mark for the first time under head coach Dan Enos with a win at Massachusetts Friday.
But first, let’s evaluate CMU’s performance against the RedHawks.
Passing Offense: (C) In his last game at Kelly/Shorts Stadium, senior quarterback Ryan Radcliff did not have one of his better games. He finished 13 of 23 for 202 yards, throwing one touchdown and one interception. Radcliff completed one pass in the first quarter and had just six completions at halftime. Redshirt freshman Andrew Flory caught two of his passes for 62 yards.
Rushing Offense: (A) It’s starting to not be a story when Zurlon Tipton gets more than 100 yards on the ground. The junior running back did just that for the fifth-straight game on Saturday, rushing for 113 yards and two touchdowns against the RedHawks. The bigger surprise was the play of true freshman Saylor Lavallii, who scored his first-career touchdown and gained 68 yards on eight carries.
Passing Defense: (C) Miami came into the game as the Mid-American Conference’s second-ranked passing team. CMU did give up 360 yards passing to senior quarterback Zac Dysert, including a 68-yard bomb in which junior wide receiver Nick Harwell escaped the secondary for a touchdown. Harwell finished the game with 11 catches for 215 yards and a touchdown. Senior safety Jahleel Addae did intercept Dysert once, and CMU recorded five sacks.
Rushing Defense: (A) Miami ranked dead-last in the MAC in rushing before Saturday’s game, and that trend continued against the Chippewas. CMU allowed just 74 yards on the ground. Freshman running back Jamire Westbrook gained just 41 yards on 12 carries.
Special Teams: (B) Special teams didn’t play a huge role against the RedHawks. Senior kicker David Harman didn’t attempt a field goal. Junior punter Richie Hogan averaged 43.3 yards per punt and pinned Miami inside its own 20-yard line three times. CMU didn’t gain many yards in the return game either.
Overall: (B) The win over the RedHawks means nothing if CMU doesn’t take care of business against Massachusetts Friday, but the performance was one of the most consistent by CMU this season. The defense was able to get consistent pressure on the quarterback for the first time all season, and Radcliff and the offense did enough to get the win. A .500 season would go a long way for the Chippewas.